At this time of year one can always rely on Brighton and Hove’s totally inclusive community choir to deliver a festive feast of music and fun. That inclusivity has long given them the potential to fully employ the full range of options available when your group contains sopranos, altos, tenors and basses. But in truth for whatever reason the choir has been blessed with great top voices but fallen short at the lower end of the register.

Last night the choir walked onto the platform and simply blew the roof off. The sound was rich, deep and underpinned by a fine and fulsome bass section. What a difference a bass makes! A week earlier the choir had aced it at the World AIDS Day concert for sure but this was on another level. And as if inspired by this new found wealth of sound every section of the choir has stepped up to the plate. Wow, wow, WOW!

But it wasn’t only this new strength that impressed, add to that some very ambitious and classic programming. I can enjoy well sung pop, I really can, but what I really enjoy is a programme where the often cheesy pop is balanced by something from the classical and contemporary choral repertoire. Last night the first half  put a huge smile on my face.

The concert opened with May It Be from Lord Of The Rings, a thundering  rendition but only a taste of what was to come. Next Vivaldi’s Gloria In Excelsis Deo, again such power but not only the power but what felt like a new found sense of dynamics and precision too.

Seal Lullaby further explored those dynamics with a gentle and sensitive performance. Then more Vivaldi with Domine File Unigenite, what was going on? So much well presented classical music. It later turned out that the choir’s departing accompanist, the marvellous Mojca Monte Amali who for over a decade has been the backbone of the choir was fully involved in the music choices. For her final event it would seem that she had been invited to select some of the programme, and what a great tribute and a great idea. Those choices had not only challenged the choir but in doing so had driven them to achieve new heights.

And the heights kept coming, Mozart’s Laudate Dominum, followed a few bits of seasonal fun and games, balance at work and crowd pleasing too. Verdi’s Va, Pensiero next which whilst good was just a little too slowly paced and felt cautious as a result – but was still impressive, and to round of a rollocking first half there breakneck delivery of Rythm Of Life, phew!

After the interval they returned with Baba Yetu, delightful stuff, a bit of Carole King, and Chosen Family, a moving anthem for the modern world.

The audience were invited to join is Santa Claus Is Coming Into Town and Away In A Manger, sadly the latter ruined by some drunken idiot in the gallery who crudely overpowered the children who had been invited to sing the first verses alone. There is so often one person who feels the need to be heard, much like the whisperers and chatterers!

Two smaller break away groups then gave us a delightful White Winter Hymnal and a very jolly We Need A Little Christmas whilst the rest of the choir disappeared only to return in outrageously silly costumes and wigs for a medley of classic ABBA hits. It was a rumbustious rendering of those hits, raggedy perhaps but rousing and fun and the audience lapped it up. I didn’t hate it, it was rightly placed, fun and festive and it served well as a precursor to their final number of the night which was clearly designed as a fitting tribute to Monti. They have done it before, not always successfully, but now the Rainbows have finally nailed it, Con Te Partiro (Time To Say Goodbye), a perfect farewell for their much loved pianist and a superb finale for what has to be their best every concert. Hats off to Aneesa Chaudhry, who drives this ensemble forward, and to every single voice that makes this a whole.

Andrew Kay

9 December

St George’s Kemp Town

Rating: ★★★★★

One Response

  1. Pamela Hider says:

    well done all of you

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